Gold prices retreated from a two-week high, settling around $2,035.5 today, Wednesday, after reaching a two-week high of $2048.12 in the previous session. The driving force behind this pullback is the observed strength in the U.S. dollar, supported by a robust labor market. Tuesday’s JOLTS report indicated that the labor market remains too strong for immediate Federal Reserve interest rate reductions, placing downward pressure on gold prices.
Monetary policy anticipation
As the U.S. dollar approaches its highest levels since mid-December, there is a potential cap on upside momentum. However, subdued Treasury yields suggest tempered market anticipation for aggressive Federal policy shifts. The spotlight now shifts to the upcoming Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, with investors eagerly awaiting insights into the Fed’s rate-cut trajectory. The two-day FOMC meeting ends later today. While the bank is expected to leave rates unchanged, the market awaits Chairman Jerome Powell’s news conference at 19:30 GMT for cues on rate cuts later this year.
The upcoming Federal policy decision follows a dovish turn in the December meeting. Markets widely anticipate the U.S. central bank to leave rates unchanged, aiming to maintain a steady market. Hence, the reserve could adopt a neutral stance and discuss the possibility of lowering interest rates. Moreover, recent data showed moderate growth in U.S. prices in December. Annual inflation also stayed below 3 percent for a third consecutive month, potentially allowing the Federal Reserve to consider cutting interest rates in the coming year.
Geopolitical and economic safeguards
Despite the increase in the U.S. dollar amid optimistic economic forecasts and consumer confidence data, geopolitical and economic factors act as a safety net for gold prices. Tensions in the Middle East and China’s prolonged economic recovery provide stability against a steep decline in the precious metal’s value. All eyes are now on the FOMC decision, expected to provide definitive direction to gold prices amidst the complex market landscape.
Precious metals market
A Reuters poll on Monday highlighted that uncertainty about the economy and potential U.S. interest rate cuts could drive gold prices to record highs in 2024. Currently, gold prices are experiencing a retracement. Moreover, spot silver fell 0.4 percent to $23.11 per ounce but reached its highest level since January 15 earlier in the session. Spot platinum fell 0.6 percent to $921.70 an ounce, and palladium lost 0.6 percent to $977.51.
The World Gold Council’s Gold Demand Trends report for 2023 unveils a nuanced landscape for the precious metal. The report highlighted that central banks’ buying of gold maintained its momentum. This played a crucial role in offsetting weaknesses in other segments of the market which ultimately supported gold prices. Hence, central banks often turn to gold during crises, suggesting continued high demand throughout 2024. This central bank support could help counterbalance any slowdown in consumer demand attributed to elevated gold prices and slowing economic growth.
Looking ahead to 2024, ongoing conflicts, trade tensions, and more than 60 global elections are expected to drive investors toward gold as a proven safe-haven asset.
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